Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)/SAMs club poor treatment of injured customers
I had a minor Injury but I have to me a lot of pain and suffering I been on and off work and. Also I feel that SAMs club was very negligence and I feel I should be paid for that all they can offer me is 2 grands I feel my lawyer got what she wanted and I got a penny Bc it wasn't As serious I have 4 children to support and I feel that overall I'm not being done fairly bc if the shoe was on the other hand it would be a larger amounts but this is what happen I was on my lunch break with a friend my witness and was wating from their cafeteria paid for my lunch went to go get my drink reach to ice in my cup and th top of the ice machine fell on me that was to neglectgent never should have happen and to be excuse my words but somebody ass should be on the hanger for this to me this is just a slap on the wrist to SAMs club
Dear Tamika Jones,
Thank you kindly for selecting me to give you some help with your situation. I am going to answer you by asking a few questions first. That way we can get together and between the two of us we will figure out if there is anything that can be done to help you. So you will have to use the part of this site that allows you to put in additional information or ask a follow-up question. But instead of asking an additional question, you will be providing me information so I can help you. OK?
First off, I am sorry to hear of your predicament. I know first-hand how difficult it is to deal with Walmart for damages, even when we have a good case. For that reason, Tamika, I am going to give you well over one hour of my time to go through various aspects of your claim. You stated that yours was a “minor injury”, but if you have gone through “a lot of pain and suffering”, then this is more important to you than just a “minor injury”. For those reasons I will give you as much time as you and I need to get something to you that you can use.
It is hard to prove pain and suffering sometimes, and what makes it worse for you is that Walmart is terrible at honoring the injuries caused by their negligence. You could use a search engine to confirm the strategy Walmart employed long ago to fight paying fair sums to the customers injured by its own negligence.
But we cannot do anything about that—I just mention it because fair-minded stores, like Costco and many others, DO pay a fair settlement to customers injured in their stores. Maybe write to the Walmart president and let them know you are displeased and will not shop there any more since they do not take care of the customers that their own negligence injures.
Now, Tamika, let’s get back to your claim. Your statement raises some questions we need to resolve. I will number my questions so you can easily make reference to them by using the same numbering system in your reply.
#1. What is going on right now? Has your case settled and you have not yet signed off on the release document? If that is the case, then DO NOT SIGN until you obtain a second opinion. Of course if you are facing a statute of limitations deadline, you will not want to lose your rights by waiting. But other than that, there is NO EMERGENCY to get this done and over with. Yes, your attorney does want her money—but this is NOT about her needs—it is instead about whether this is a fair settlement for YOU. And if you want a second opinion, do NOT be intimidated by the attorney insisting that this is fair—if you think it is not fair, then you can AND SHOULD obtain a second opinion.
#2. If the case has already settled and you have already signed the release, but your attorney has not mailed it off to Walmart, tell her to STOP and DO NOTHING until you have a second opinion. If she has mailed the signed release off to Walmart, and they have sent their check to the attorney and she has cashed it, you are probably stuck with the settlement. Once a case is actually settled, the release and the checks exchanged and cashed, it is very difficult to set aside the agreement to settle. You would have to be able to show evidence of injuries that were not known at the time by either party—something the doctors did not detect, in fact COULD NOT then detect, but which has now become known to them. In thirty-seven years in the personal injury law business, I have NEVER EVER seen anyone set aside an agreement to settle once the settlement has occurred.
#3. If you are stuck with the settlement that does NOT mean you are stuck with the fees charged by your attorney. I am willing to bet that your attorney did not file a lawsuit, but instead merely send off a demand letter and negotiated after that. If that is the case, DO NOT sign off on the attorney’s distribution sheet in which she shows her fees. Instead, you have the right, by your state bar association, to fight the fees so that they are fair in light of a number of factors, including the amount of money at stake, the results obtained, and the amount and difficulty of work involved by the attorney.
#4. Even if you have approved the attorney’s distribution sheet, and she has issued her checks, you STILL CAN CONTEST her fees. If this is your situation, let me know and give me the facts of the settlement, the work she did and the amount of her fees. Also give me your state and I will give you the information from your state bar association so you can contest her fees. It does NOT MATTER that she already wrote the checks, I will help you figure out how to contest her fees.
#5. You are telling me that the offer is grossly insufficient. But you provide only one piece of information to support that assertion: the store seems to be one-hundred percent at fault. From your description, there is no comparative fault on your part, and thus if there is any negligence, it would all be on the part of Walmart.
#6. Could the problem be some mechanical failure?
The problem is: in what way was the store at fault? The fact that a piece of their equipment failed does not mean there was negligence. In other words, let’s say that there was a strap holding the top of the machine and the strap was properly secured, but b/c of metal fatigue it broke and the top of the machine fell on you. In that case, you would have difficulty proving negligence on the part of Walmart. So that is one reason the amount of your settlement might be smaller; it reflects their belief that you will have difficulty proving negligence.
#7. But most likely it WAS the fault of the store employee whose job it was to secure the top of that machine. It sounds to me like it was somebody’s job to make sure that machinery did not fall on anyone. In this they failed, and so you will likely have no problem proving negligence.
#8. Proving damages—how much you need the money is irrelevant.
I understand and empathize with your having expenses raising four children and so forth, but that is not an element of damages. How much you need the money is never taken into consideration in determining damages.
#9. Damages are proven by your pain and suffering, your medical expenses, and your lost wages. Your attorney ought to have made a demand for all of those elements of damages. But even if you did not have much in the way of medical treatment, at least your injuries were significant enough to cause you to miss some work. Thus, it might be just a matter of getting more evidence to the adjuster to bump the offer up a bit. If this is the case, you can work with your attorney to present a witness statement that will show how much the injuries did in fact impact your daily life. OK?
#10. Please let me know WHERE on your body the machine top hit you, and how heavy was it—and how far did it fall? Did it in any way strike your head? If it did strike your head, where and how hard was the impact? One thing I am getting at is a mild traumatic brain injury in the event a piece of equipment of some weight fell a few feet and struck your head.
#11. Please tell me a bit about your injuries, just a bit about your medical treatment, and the total amount your attorney put in the demand letter and the amount offered in settlement, and the amount the attorney wants for her fees. And remember, Tamika, no matter what her contract says, your attorney cannot take fees that are not reasonable in consideration of the circumstances I described in my paragraph #3 above. So even if this is two months after your attorney wrapped things up, you STILL can seek a review of her attorney fees. I will show you how to do that, but of course you must furnish the information I asked for, and let me know what state you are in.
That is about it for now, Tamika. If you cannot find the link to amend or add to your question, go ahead and furnish the information I asked for by putting everything into a new question. You do not have to give the background in the new question since I will know it is you by your beautiful name. OK?
If you decide not to answer my questions or to take this any further, then I ask that you leave some feedback for me. I trust that my extra time here has produced some information that has been of value to you, and thus I would respectfully request that you take the time to locate the FEEDBACK FORM on this site and leave some feedback for me.
Dr. Settlement, J.D. (Juris Doctor)